Deep South Roadtrip: USS Alabama

7.30.2009 Comments: (4)
Picking up from last time, after we left Montgomery, we drove south to Mobile, straight to a hotel. Monday's drive = About 9 hours, about 525 miles.
We had volunteered to take all the leftover booze from the Savannah rental house, because we were driving right to Houston for another weekend of partying, which made a lot of sense. Except, we had to take it in and out of all the hotels and such, because it was just so hot outside, we didn't want the beer and wine to go bad. Two 12 packs of beer, 3 oversized bottles of wine, and lots of half empty bottles of liquor. Ugh.
Anyway, I collapsed in the hotel feeling all kinds of crappy, but Dan ran me a bubble bath and went out to get dinner (awwwwwwwww. I know right?) We planned to get up the next morning, pack up the car and head out to tour the USS Alabama, which is permanently docked in the Mobile Bay. We ended up having our breakfast, going to the ship and coming back to the hotel to pack up and change. Pat on my own back for good decision making because it was SO HOT that morning. We were at the ship at 9:30, and on the ship for about 90 minutes and were pretty much drenched in sweat. There was no shade to park in, all the booze would have gone bad.
The USS Alabama has quite the history of service, which you can read about here if you would like. It has been a fixture in the Mobile Bay since 1965, open to visitors - along with a submarine (the USS Drum) and several different planes. The Alabama has three different self-guided tours that you can follow, and you can go pretty much anywhere on the ship, which is why we wanted to go. Like I mentioned - super hot, very sweaty, but incredibly interesting. I also learned for sure that I would never want to live on a battleship.
Dan as a sailor. He's still smiling because this was right at the beginning of our wanderings, and he is not yet ridiculously sweaty.

Deep South Roadtrip: Tourism-Lite

7.28.2009 Comments: (5)
We left Savannah both celebrating our awesomeness for helping pull of such a great surprise, and also coughing, complaining and wishing for antibiotics. Well, that second part was just me. I had fully succumbed by Monday morning to Jess's death cough and fever, and Dan had woken up feeling just great! Of course.
On the drive, we had tried to find out if there were things that would be worth stopping for in towns we at least recognized the names of. I knew I definitely wanted to get to Montgomery, AL and Macon, GA is right on the way. Except, there is pretty much absolutely nothing in Macon but one huge, ornate church. We pulled off the highway, stretched, wandered around the church for about 10 minutes, lit some candles, drove around the nothing that is the town, switched drivers and continued on. Yeah, you can skip it in your travels. You're welcome for taking that one for the team.
St. Joseph's cathedral - Macon, GA
4 hours after leaving Macon, we arrived in Montgomery, Alabama. Actually, this part of the drive was probably one of the highlights for me...we got off the interstate and took some back roads, which was really gorgeous. We also got to eat Chick-Fil-A, which Dan was super excited about. I was driving, so I was more excited that I managed to cut an entire hour off the arrival time the GPS projected for us. Best driving time ever!
Montgomery really only had three highlights that I wanted to see. One, state capitol building. It looks shockingly close to another capitol building many of us are familiar with. We walked a lot of the grounds and WOW does Alabama love to commemorate stuff. On the grounds of the capitol are: the Moon Tree (the seeds of the tree travelled in the space shuttle), a statue to the father of modern gynecology, a rock memorializing where the state highway commission started, some creepy busts of Alabam senators, lots of stuff about the "War Between the States" and some other stuff that we took pictures of but weren't sure what they were later. Seriously, there was an insane number of plaques, statues, memorials, etc. Alabama. Land of the Inscription.
The Capitol is pretty though.
One of the smallest plaques of the day, for one of the most interesting facts. This star marks the spot Jefferson Davis was sworn in the first and only President of the Confederate States. (Which in above photo is between the 2nd and 3rd columns from the right)
The second thing I wanted to see was the Dexter Avenue King Memorial Church, where Dr. King was the pastor from 1954-1960. I sometimes have trouble conceptualizing that such intense events happened where I am on any given peaceful "normal" day, idly taking pictures. But, there they were.
The last thing was the Civil Rights Memorial. It's the only memorial that honors those who died during the Civil Rights Movement. Reminiscent of the Vietnam Memorial, it's a black granite circular fountain, with the names of those who died around the edges like a clock, which is front of a large granite wall, also a fountain, with one of Dr. King's quotes on it. It's a pretty powerful place.
Sorry, Mobile will have to wait until later. Also, New Orleans approaches. I know you can hardly wait.

Deep South Roadtrip: Savannah

7.25.2009 Comments: (2)
Stop One on the roadtrip was Savannah for Ben and Jess's surprise bachelor/bachelorette party. As I mentioned in the last post, Carrie and Brian had planned most of it - we rented a vacation house for the weekend, and basically partied it up.
The house was supposed to sleep 7 people, and we had...18. And a dog. It was awesome. Head count: Ben, Jess, 5 of us from Reston, Ben's sister Gen, her boyfriend, and three of her friends, 4 RPI folks and one of their friends, and Ben's cousin. Ben and Jess's dog Puck, who is the best dog I've ever met, also hung out most of the weekend.
Dan and I flew into Jacksonville, which is about two hours south of Savannah, and landed at about 11 PM. Then we had to get our luggage, pick up our rental car, and you know, drive there, which put us at the rental place at about 1:30 AM.
Apparently, though, it all worked out to plan, as Ben and Jess thought the surprise arrivals had ended a few hours earlier with Ben's cousin Charlie, who came in after dinner. When we pulled up and walked up the steps, it was probably the best Ben face I have ever seen. Totally, completely flabbergasted. And you know, Ben is pretty expressive, so it was great. He ran inside and up the stairs to get Jess, who was getting ready for bed at this point. She was also pretty excited. (See below).
Laura, Franklin and Josh (who had been driving straight since leaving Philadelphia!!! that morning) arrived at about 3 AM, which made for another round of great surprised faces, especially since they came bearing fantastic gifts from South of the Border (which included funny hats, an enormous fly swatter, and sparklers, which Franklin promptly burned himself with). So that night, before all was said and done, we probably got to bed about 6 AM.
Saturday we woke up not nearly as late as you think, and headed to the beach on Tybee Island. Carrie had packed us all some food, we had games to play, and books to read, it was a great day. It's super fun going to the beach with that many people because when everyone gets in the water, it looks like you brought quite a posse with you (which I guess we did). There was always
enough people for bocce ball, and soccer. The weather was perfect, it was just a really good day. Around 6, a wedding started on the beach behind us, so we stuck around to watch, and tried to avoid being in their professional wedding pictures. (Aw, honey look, it's our first kiss! Who is that in the bathing suit behind us?!?)
We had a fantastic BBQ dinner, and then we separated by gender to do the official bachelor and bachelorette party business.
Here we illustrate the differences between "good times" for men and women. The men, after pouring lots of straight liquor into a coke bottle to share, headed to Forsyth Park, and proceeded to get drunk and have a huge water gun fight (serious PVC pipe water guns) and then head to the nearest pool hall. The women got dressed up, went to the local swanky lounge, sat in VIP and drank lots of wine. The contrast provided for lots of entertainment. I should note that Jess was being a fantastic trooper at this point, because she had the death flu that we all had later on, and
was still smiling and even willing to go out.
Anyway, we all eventually met up at the pool hall, shut it down at 3, poured into cabs, got back to the house...and kept drinking. I know for sure we saw the sunrise around 7. I think we all thought we were 18 again.
Sunday morning, a lot of folks had to leave after brunch, but those of us who stayed had a pretty quiet day. Many of us were by now feeling the early symptoms of Jess's illness, and also had only gotten a couple hours of sleep over the past two nights. How Josh drove all the way back to Philly on Sunday morning is beyond my comprehension. Anyway, Ben us showed around Savannah, we rented a movie (Bolt...because we're all under 10), and we had dinner and a movie night. It was very relaxed, as by now, we all felt like great friends even though many of us had just met. But...we had been through quite a bit of drinking, and the aftermath, together. I hope it was entertaining for Ben and Jess to see their worlds colliding together at high speeds.
Coming up: Macon, Montgomery and Mobile. All places I don't need to go again.

Deep South Roadtrip 2009: Introduction

7.23.2009 Comments: (4)
So, the roadtrip evolved out of two separate events that happened to be one week apart in very different areas of the country, and also about as far as possible from where we live. Carrie, the maid of honor in Ben and Jess's wedding, and Brian Baum, the best man, who many of us have gotten to know over the years, planned a secret bachelor/bachelorette party for the bride and groom down in Savannah, where they live. They basically invited anyone and everyone, on the condition that no one spill the beans beforehand. Dan and I were invited, and since I felt bad about not being able to attend the bridal shower, I sort of hunkered down and tried to figure out how we could get there without spending enormous amounts of money. The problem was that Brian and Christy's wedding was in Houston the following weekend - actually, we were scheduled to fly in on Thursday. There was no way that we were going to go to Savannah, fly back to California and then go back to Texas four days later. No thanks. We toyed with the idea of heading up to DC for a few days, and then I started looking around at other options. Recently, I've decided that I want to visit all 50 states - and I realized that I'd never been to Alabama, Mississippi, or Louisiana. And then one day I found a SUPER cheap deal on a one way rental car, to use all the way from Savannah to Houston, and just sort of booked it without having any other plans...good thing Dan is flexible, and that we usually fly on Southwest, who doesn't charge you extra to change your flights (which is really awesome, if you think about how much you pay for that crap on other airlines) As we talked about what we wanted to do, and where we wanted to go, we decided to: ~Fly into Jacksonville Friday night and drive up to Savannah (2 hours of driving) for surprise party, stay through the weekend ~Leave Savannah on Monday, drive to Mobile AL to spend the night (8 hours of driving), stopping in Macon and Montgomery for some tourism-lite en route ~Visit the USS Alabama in Mobile on Tuesday morning, and drive to New Orleans (2 hours of driving), stay until Thursday morning ~Leave New Orleans, drive to Baton Rouge, do a drive through tour, and head on to Houston (about 6 hours of driving) ~Hang out in Houston, attend wedding, have various good times and fly back to Cali on Sunday (I know that our plans totally just made my mom have convulsions) Honestly? It was rad. The whole thing. We didn't even kill each other about directions, parking, whatever have you - because usually when Dan and I fight, it's in the car. But yes, it was totally worth the time, money and hours in the car. 3 new states off the list!* Tomorrow's post: Savannah, with Franklin's pictures. Because Dan and I get lazy whenever Franklin pulls out his camera, as his photos will inevitably be better than ours. *States count as visited if you obviously stop there OR drive through them. Layovers at an airport in that state do not count. I have 24 left to go. How many states have you visited?

Back Safely

7.21.2009 Comments: (4)

Well, we have returned safely from our 2009 Deep South Roadtrip. It was a blast.

Some stats:
States visited - 6 (Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas)
Different homes/hotels stayed in - 4
Cars rented - 2
Huge surprises pulled off - 1
Alligators seen - 10+
Miles travelled - 1500+
Suitcases ruined - 1
We will be blogging the heck out of the trip for the next little while, we have so much material to cover! However, I will not be starting this evening, because I have been backsliding into the illness I picked up in Savannah ever since we got back to the West Coast. Plus, getting back into working after 10 days off has not been fun, just mostly exhausting.
Just as a sneak preview, however, please see the highlights below from the very tail end of our trip. When we arrived safely in Oakland from Houston, Dan's suitcase was...not in great shape. The frame had been bent really bad, and there were holes in the sides of it that basically looked like they were the result of being burnt. The holes went all the way through the sides, to some of the stuff inside - ruining a pair of pants and a pair of dress shoes.
The guy in the Southwest baggage office told us that most likely, the bag fell of the cart and ended up being dragged over the pavement, which caused all the damage. Whatever, we put in a claim and they should be either replacing it or sending Dan a check. Hooray! The bad news was that we had to leave the damaged stuff at the airport, which meant we brought all of his stuff home in a new Southwest duffle bag. Good times.

Where's the love?

7.05.2009 Comments: (4)
So we post every day for a week about stuff, and my Uncle Mike is the most frequent commenter. Rosa, Meghan and Laura (and everyone else!!!) - you're losing out to my uncle. For serious. Hope everyone had a Happy 4th!

Not lost, just not found

7.03.2009 Comments: (2)
Lily had a little outdoor adventure, for about 12 hours today. There was plenty of fretting, searching, crying, calling out her name, and fear packed into one emotionally draining day. Due to some commotion by James in the middle of the night, I was up at 4am grabbing litter since James disapproved of the cleanliness of his facilities. While I was cleaning up, Lily snuck out into the hallway, which usually isn't a problem because there's at least 2 other locked doors she needs to get past in order to reach the wilderness outside. Clearly 2 is no match. She's also usually not in the hall at 4am when I mistake shadows for her inside our apartment. Lily spent the rest of the morning in the hallway and around 7am escaped the fortress as the morning staff began working in the building. We're relieved, to say the least. Exhausted from worrying. Is this what you parents go through everyday? Oy. We're actually more curious to know where she went on her journey! We pictured her prancing down the sidewalks as if she owned Berkeley. Just as we decided to make some flyers to hand around the next day, we found her crying for us just outside our door. It may have also been dinner time, but let's be honest, she likes us more than food. It was really hard to find a picture for a 'Lost' flyer. She puts her face in everything! Kittien! James helps look for her. She's actually sitting in our suitcase full of underwear. I told you she gets into everything! A quick edit for the flyers that we thankfully didn't even need.

I'm dizzy with anticipation! Or is it the wind?

7.01.2009 Comments: (1)
Ahhh! Woooh! What's happening? Who am I? Why am I here? What's my purpose in life? What do I mean by who am I? Okay okay, calm down calm down get a grip now. Ooh, this is an interesting sensation. What is it? Its a sort of tingling in my... well I suppose I better start finding names for things. Lets call it a... tail! Yeah! Tail! And hey, what's this roaring sound, whooshing past what I'm suddenly gonna call my head? Wind! Is that a good name? It'll do. Yeah, this is really exciting. I'm dizzy with anticipation! Or is it the wind? There's an awful lot of that now isn't it? And what's this thing coming toward me very fast? So big and flat and round, it needs a big wide sounding name like 'Ow', 'Ownge', 'Round', 'Ground'! That's it! Ground! Ha! I wonder if it'll be friends with me? Hello Ground! - Whale, Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy So Dana & Larry came to visit in June (yes we know it's now July) with a laundry list of things to accomplish - visiting Alcatraz, crossing the Golden Gate Bridge, seeing redwood trees, a campus tour, wine tasting, and jumping out of a plane. Oddly enough, many of which KK had done without me, so I had promised Dana I'd wait for her on these adventures. Last part first. Skydiving was AMAZING!!! Jumping out of a plane always seemed like a fun, but scary idea; until I realized, the professionals you're strapped to jump between 6 and 8 times a day. Oh, and they probably don't want to die either. To which Dana, Larry, and I thought it might be good idea to talk to our tandem pro just to see how they were feeling that day. Good spirits? Excellent. They have the routine down to a science, and you don't get much say as your basically pushed out the door. In Dana's case carried because she was in the back of the plane. In my case, a gentle roll out, as I was the first one out the door. Immediately, it was one of the most relaxing and freeing experiences of my life. You're basically weightless and can't do anything but look around at the serene views. Ok, maybe you can also scream. 60 seconds of free fall, another 5 minutes floating under the parachute, and worth every moment (and penny). Larry actually steered his chute, which I'm a bit jealous of, so if anyone wants to go, let me know... Alcatraz Island is actually only a tiny speck of land in the bay, which we see all the time when we look out to the bay. I was expecting a boring history lesson, but I actually surprise myself by now highly recommending the audio tour. Unless you've been living under the rock, you at least know it was a prison. It is also home to an old abandoned military fort, the oldest operating lighthouse on the west coast of the US, and a massive amount of bird habitats. Other past residents include Al Capone, tribes of Native Americans during a slightly hostile takeover, and several children. KK wrote about it from her first summer here, but the prison guards used to actually live on the island and their children played on the grounds outside the prison walls. They took a ferry over to SF each day for school. Dana, Larry, and I happened to visit the same day one of these kids was on the island to sign copies of her latest book about life in and out of the prison grounds. (She's no longer a child.) However, she was still a child living on the island during the worst escape attempt. When she heard the sirens, she thought it'd at least make a great excuse for being late to school. Our other adventures with Dana and Larry we're equally thrilling but perhaps repeats to all of you loyal readers. You can read about the first time we crossed the Golden Gate Bridge here. You can also read about wine tasting here, here, here, here, and here. And now for some pictures. Best seat in the house.

Roll out.

Required embarassing chubby cheeks picture.

Best photo ever.

The Rock.

Day of birth.

Comments: (2)
It's my Dad's birthday! I would say wish him a Happy Birthday on Facebook, but he doesn't log into his account (boo). So, maybe in the comments?